At the age of ten, Brian was already well acquainted with the effects of the potent home brew known as chang’aa, which is Swahili for “kills you fast.” He worked daily helping his grandmother, a brewer’s helper, mash and bake the grain, haul the water, and tend the fires in the heat of the day.
Brian knew the toll that chang’aa took. He could see it in the faces of the people who came to drink, and in his grandmother’s face as well. Like most who work in chang’aa brewing, she often turned to the kangara, the fermented grain, and the chang’aa itself, for daily sustenance. Brian ate and drank it often, too. It filled his belly with heat, but it dulled his mind and made him lose track of his days. He rarely attended school.
Barely able to provide for herself, Brian’s grandmother was all he had left after losing both of his parents. His father had died when he was six, followed by his mother four years later. The parcel of land that had belonged to Brian’s father, along with part of their two-room, mud-walled house, had been sold to pay for funeral expenses, leaving him with nothing.
Brian’s grandmother did what she could to care for him, but chang’aa brewing exacts a toll, and Brian was slowly descending into a life of drinking and despair.
In an attempt to escape the chang’aa life, Brian took on extra work as a herd’s boy, but it was not enough to allow him to free himself from the brewery or attend school regularly. He was referred to the Micro Community at Baba Nyumbani for help.
When Brian was brought to Baba Nyumbani, he struggled to adjust to his new educational opportunities and struggled with examinations. Today, Brian excels at his studies. Instead of losing himself in a life of drinking, he loves the clarity of his new life in a supportive community where his loving family encourages his hopes for a successful future.